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Nurse Educator or Administrator: Which Path Is Right for Me?

You have decided to enroll in a Registered Nurse (RN) to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, but which track will you choose? The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing and Health Innovation gives nurses the flexibility to choose between an educator or administrator path in its RN to MSN online program. If you are deciding on your healthcare career direction, here is more information to help guide you.

Who Is a Good Fit for the Nurse Educator Track?

Nurse educators are critical to preparing nursing professionals for the real world. They are employed by technical schools, community colleges and universities, hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare organizations. Depending on the work environment and specific role, nurse educators may be expected to:

  • Develop curricula and coordinate continuing education programs
  • Lead didactic and clinical courses
  • Advise and evaluate students and nurses
  • Conduct academic research

Nurses who pursue this track should have:

  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • A natural curiosity and desire for continuous learning
  • Patience and a willingness to teach others
  • A people-oriented personality

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for postsecondary educators, in general, is expected to grow much faster than average at 9% through 2029.

Nurse educators are candidates for a variety of roles and job titles including:

  • Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Staff Development Officer
  • Continuing Education Specialist
  • Instructional Nurse Faculty

While specific data on the anticipated growth for nurse educators is sparse, demand could be even more significant given the extreme staffing shortages in nursing schools. In 2018 alone, more than 75K qualified nursing school applicants were denied enrollment, per the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Two-thirds of responding schools cited insufficient numbers of faculty and clinical preceptors as the reason.

Who Is a Good Fit for the Nurse Administrator Track?

Nurse administrators typically fulfill executive-level positions in hospitals, nursing homes and large physician practices. They should be prepared to:

  • Recruit and hire nurses
  • Conduct performance evaluations
  • Create and update nursing policies and procedures
  • Oversee departmental budgeting and reporting

Nurses who pursue this track must be able to:

  • Work collaboratively
  • Demonstrate problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Implement business principles, such as strategic planning and resource management
  • Lead with integrity and confidence

Job growth for nurse administrators is promising and expected to grow much faster than the average. The BLS estimates that the job outlook for medical and health services manager roles are expected to increase to 32% through 2029.

Nurse administrators are considered for a variety of positions including:

  • Charge Nurse
  • Chief Nurse Executive
  • Director of Nursing
  • Director of Patient Services
  • Nurse Manager

How Can You Prepare for Nurse Educator or Administrator Roles?

While you likely have a foundational understanding of these roles, there is much more you can do to secure a career as a nurse educator or nurse administrator, including:

Self-evaluation. Set aside time to evaluate your personality traits, ideal work-life balance and career goals. This helps you narrow your pathway choice while also preparing for the expectations of the job and illuminating areas requiring further development.

Job shadow. Learning the responsibilities of a role through job shadowing is a great way to gain firsthand experience. Your employer may have an internal program that assists with these requests, or you can speak with your manager or human resources director for further guidance. Opportunities may also be available through local universities and community colleges.

Continuing education. As the healthcare system has grown more complex, educators’ and administrators’ minimum education requirements have also shifted. While there remain some opportunities for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, most employers now require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. An RN to MSN program provides an edge in the job market by expanding your knowledge of key topics like evidence-based practice, nursing theory and informatics, in addition to courses dedicated to certain concentrations. Clinical practicums completed regionally provide opportunities to integrate learning into real-world scenarios and form professional connections.

Find Your True Path

If you are intrigued by a career as a nurse educator or nurse administrator, advancing your education is a solid investment. An RN to MSN program enhances existing expertise and offers coursework for your chosen specialization. Equipped with both a BSN and MSN, graduates are strong contenders in the job market and ready to pursue new career opportunities.

Learn more about the UTA RN to MSN online program with Nurse Educator or Nurse Administrator tracks.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Nursing Shortage

National League for Nursing: Nurse Educator Core Competency Career Guide Series, Nurse Manager

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook:

Medical and Health Services Managers

Postsecondary Teachers

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